Last month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s crusade to prosecute the parents of transgender kids brought the national campaign targeting gender-affirming care to new lows. Now, it’s not the actions of one politician but the decision of a whole state legislature that threatens some of the most vulnerable in the LGBTQ community.
Senate Bill 184 went into effect in Alabama this week, marking what might be the deadliest law targeting trans youth in the United States. The law bans hormones and puberty blockers for trans youth under the age of 18, even with parental consent. Doctors who defy the law can face up to 10 years in prison for providing life-saving care. This makes Alabama the first state to make providing gender-affirming healthcare to trans youth a felony.
It is no secret that this type of care is critical to the well-being of young trans people. Studies like this recent one have found time and time again that access to gender-affirming care significantly lowers the rates of suicide and self-harm for trans youth. This type of care is also widely accepted in the medical community, including by the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, and many more.
Despite the severity of this new law, a painful silence has fallen over media outlets, politicians, and even queer communities on the topic. The societal focus on “Don’t Say Gay” laws and potential threats to marriage equality has garnered nearly all of the already limited amount of public attention LGBTQ issues get. While these issues are important, this one is life and death.
The LGBTQ+ community has long endured painful discrimination and abuse from political forces and right-wing campaigns. Yet, in this new age of safety and privilege for certain queer people, the same protections are still not afforded to the most vulnerable in our communities. SB184 has been an unfortunate example of this reality.
In Alabama, advocates are attempting to challenge this new law through the courts but it may take weeks or even months before they hear back. While that is happening, doctors face unprecedented legal repercussions for providing medical care and trans kids suffer as they lose access to hormones and puberty blockers.
There are a lot of actions people in Pittsburgh (and beyond) can take to center this issue and protect trans kids. Allies can support trans-led initiatives like the Trans Family Network which was created in the wake of this most recent wave of anti-trans legislation to help relocate and support the families most affected by these laws. Additionally, activists across the country are urging people to donate to local organizations that provide support to trans youth across the state. Some of these organizations include TKO Alabama, Magic City Acceptance Center, Montgomery Pride Center, Prism United, Shoals Diversity Center, TAKE Resource Center, and TransFamily Support Services.
Listening to, echoing, and supporting trans people experiencing this discrimination and advocates in the field remains the most important practice for allies to fight back against these anti-trans laws. As the campaign for harsher and harsher legislation targeting trans youth rages on, queer communities must also hold news outlets and politicians accountable for covering and responding to dangerous legislation.